Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful We Are.......

This year I am thankful for another Thanksgiving with all of our family and friends, but especially with our Lily girl. We are approaching our one year anniversary of her last open heart surgery. We have almost been hospital free for a year. I am thankful for that, I am thankful for what Dr.C and Dr.N were able to accomplish during her last surgery. That we were able to buy at least a year off the surgery. What we were hoping for it but not holding our breath for it. In 13 days I feel like throwing a party in celebration for this thankfulness and accomplishment.

Thankful I am for the priceless pictures and faces I have captured of Lily. Thankful I am for the pictures I have been able to get of all my kids together. Thankful for all the memories we have been able to make over this last year. Lily is closing in on 21 months of life. 21 months of miracles and blessings. 21 months of more love then I ever thought capable. Thankful doesn't sum up how truly blessed we are because 21 months is more then some get.
My Sweet Lily girl with her moo face, she makes this when there are bright lights of wind is blowing in her face. She will also do it if there is a booger up her nose, which she has started to learn how to pick them out. From time to time she will walk up to me and hold her finger out and go, "Eewww grow" (don't think I need to translate but just in case that would be Eww Gross) At least she isn't eating them right?
This would be Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, not sure who is who, they both fight over who gets to be Dum...oh my boys. Austin wouldn't smile in any of the pictures, he was being our stinker bug for the day. He would run around and smile, but as soon as you turned the camera towards him he got the, "I am seriously done with you" look on his face. That would be my Austi boy though
Look, a picture of me and my husband, I don't think we have had one of us together in a long time. Then again, that happens seeing one of us always seems to be behind the camera. Don't mind the squinting, the sun was bright.
Lily and Nana. I wish Lily was able to spend more time with Grandma and Grandpa so she wouldn't be afraid of them and cry when they went to hold her. But with one car and them living about an hour and a half away from us, we don't make it out that way often.
Oh my Lucas boy, he is a soda addict like his mother, but just because he is addicted to it, doesn't mean he gets it all the time. This was something new, he has never had a soda can to himself. He felt like a special little dude.
Proof that Lily loves food. She ate like a moo cow on Thanksgiving, everything from Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, ham, green beans, biscuits, pumpkin pie, and fruit. She loves her some food, and everyone who picked her up was like, "My goodness, you would never know she has had 3 surgeries" She is so solid, healthy, hearty and solid.
One of Lily's many faces, this is her, "You are really taking another picture?" look.
Me and my girly. In pictures like these I can see the resemblance more between her and I, but I am still told she looks nothing like me, that she looks more like daddy instead.
LQQK ( yes I just did the Look with two Q's) Austin is looking at the camera AND smiling. Daddy had to squeeze him to get this, but heck at least we got it.
This is Kaitlyn, she is a doll (yes Kaitlyn, called you a doll) She has so much spunk to her, and is a riot. She adores Lily, I think she might be Lily's biggest fan if we were to start a fan club. I hope Lily grows up to be like her, she has such a love for life and all that is good, she does it with flare and attitude. Kaitlyn's mom is one of my good friends, a rare friend to have these days. I miss all my neighbors from our old complex, I grew attached to them and the friendship's we formed. We have all become friends for life it seems. (Yes Danny and Michele that means both of you too) They are my extended family, I seem to be gaining more of those these days, but I love each and every one of them like they were my blood. Thank you for such a wonderful evening, it was like being with Family seeing mine are all so far away.

Well that brings this blog to a close, not much new to update, Lily is fine we have a heart apt coming up here on the 16Th. Crossing our fingers that Dr.Rhee looks at the echo and goes, "See you in February." What wonderful and glorious words those would be.

Oh on a side note, Lucas and Austin are sick again with Strep. They just finished their antibiotics about a week ago, so as on Monday we are headed back to the doctors. I know Lily doesn't have to worry about the side effects of it but still, if you all could say a prayer for safe guarding her and holding her strong against it. She is a strong little girl, she was the last to get sick our last go around and the first better. I pray she can keep up the great work.

Well that is all, look for another blog in 13 days! Unless there is something to update before then.

Love Hugs and Blessings

Friday, November 20, 2009


There will be a day, with no more tears, fears, and pain. There will be a day with no more needles, no more IV's, no more hospital's, no medications. That day will come one day for all of us. The day we are called home to Glory, to meet him face to face, the day we take our last breath here on earth. That will be the day, it all fades away, where it will no longer be a memory, it will no longer be a burden you carry, for yourself, for others, it will be weightless bliss.
I have never been a cynic, far from it, I think I have been seen as one form time to time, but that was before my Lily. I consider myself a sentimentalist, I am governed by feelings, driven by them. I know logic, I understand it, I don't discard it, but in the life we now are living, I live by emotions. Day by day, on a whim, taken on the fly. Planning life, is great for some, heck, great for many, but when disaster comes, turns that plan, and throws it from the window, you have two choices. One, dig your feet into the ground, say, "Stick to the plan, we will work around it." or two, say, "Screw life's plan, we will take what comes, and live day by day." Well the latter become our life's motto. One was once upon a time, or as we like to say, Once Upon our Lily. We are never angered by it, we are never resistantful to it, we smile at the fate we have been handed, and make sure to turn our hearts and head up to the sky at the end of the day, from our bended knees and folded hands. Our family was forever changed the moment our little 6lb 9oz bundle of miracles joined our ranks. More for the better then the worst. Many of you who just read the word "worst" please do allow me to explain.
When having a child with medical problems, life threatening, more so at some points, then others, you will understand what I am about to say. To others, sometimes it's the journey of watching others, your loved ones, dear friends, or your friends children, suffer through it all. Only then do you some what comprehend the lives we lead and the choices we have to make. The lives of the brave, the weary, the heartache, the pain, the fight; the continuous battle of it all. The hospital stays, the surgeries, the bad news, the good news, the separation from other children, the separation from the sick child, learning to live life "normally", a new normal. Giving more time to the child who is sick, then being able to give it to all the kids. No matter how much you try to spread yourself out between your children, to make sure no one feels left out, soon you are spread to thin. Your marriage has it hurtles, no matter how strong it is. A sick child wears on the whole family. Fiances, are always a big things, medical bills roll in, you wonder when they will stop and start paying on ones, but see no end in sight, as they keep coming. You have a whole drawer in your filing cabinet dedicated for them, bills, medical information, your life. You learn life saving techniques, you are always on guard, your medical knowledge grows, you feel like a walking book of medical terms, all for your child. You are their advocate as they grow, the feeling is sometimes overwhelming. You wonder if you are doing it all right, if this is what they would want. We fight for them, we fight until they can take over the fighting or until there is no fight left......
In the mean time, what has become of your family, your children, your look at it all. Did you juggle it right? Did you dedicate enough time to it all? Do your other children hold resentment towards their sibling? Did you miss out on key moments of their life while attending to the life of their sibling. Making sure we all remained a family, it is the hardest thing, and most grueling task, minus the trials of the sick child. Holding together as one, strong, loving, and balanced.
I fear the boys will resent Lily one day, no matter how much we explain things to them. No matter how much time we give them. Lily's future is uncertain, and it became that way the moment she was conceived, as with the rest of us, but hers is a bit more uncertain then ours. We all can look towards the prospects of growing old, into our 60's+, at least. Lily, it all depends, on medical technology, Gods blessings and miracles. It is all his choosing, you don't look at life with the attitude of, "Well if we lose her, was it really worth putting her through all that pain to begin with?" She fights for her chance at life, no matter how big, or small it may be. A medically ill child teaches you to be blessed with every breath you take. To thank our father in heaven each night for another day, and if he so choose to wake us in the morning, we will see it as another blessing.
Some already have that outlook on life, others are not as fortunate. Most, take a life threatening diagnoses, or life altering experience. To open their eyes, to see the world in such a brilliance, in such glory. Once you are awaken to it, you never want to let go of it. Even if we were to lose our precious girl, we would never let go of what we have learned. She may never have a park named after her, her name may never cross the lips of millions, she may not make it into any medical text books, but my daughter has lived, she has defied the odds. We were once told to not expect her to make it through the night, that there was nothing more surgically we could do for her, that she was in the hands of God, and truly she was. She is our legacy, she changed our lives, and the lives of those who know her. She is my fighter, she is OUR fighter, she shows our family the power of God and his grace. His beauty, his love, his life and creation. I may write her story, but many write books, and many are forgotten.
Most of us will live or lives, pass through here on earth, and leave nothing behind but a name and a tombstone. We will be on an ancestral tree, that is brought out with each new generation, an old photograph will be shown to our progeny, a brief story will be told, until we are forgotten. Such is how life goes, how it has gone before us. Not all of us make big stories, and we aren't all supposed to. We may suffer, but we aren't the first and nor will we be the last. My name is Jenna Lee Brown McLaughlin, 200 years from now, I will be known as, great great great great, something to someone I will never know. Lily with her medical problems, is still just Lilyana Annsaleigh McLaughlin. Daughter of Christopher Jay and Jenna Lee, sister of Lucas Christopher, and Austin Nicholas. And hopefully one day, she will be aunt and mother, but that brings us full circle.
One day, never let go of the hope of tomorrow, but the acceptance of today might be our last. Live life, love life, enjoy life. Don't try to understand life constantly, enjoy the beauty of it from time to time. Think with emotions and feelings, not always logic and reason. Sometimes you just have to let go of what you knew, to know something new.
Love, Hugs, and Blessings,
Jenna Lee Brown-McLaughlin
the proud daughter of
Wade Brown and Julie Daffron

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We need a miraculous silver lining

I know how many of you live in AZ who read this blog. For those of you who don't, I am not sure if this is on the news anywhere else, but the grocery store union is about to go on strike for Fry's and Safeway. Which for those of you who are in CA, that stop by and read this blog, know this is not a good thing because it means many are out of a job until an agreement can be met. Which right now, during the holiday season is a bad time for anyone to be without a job but especially during a time when the economy sucks as is.
Where am I going with this? Well we are going to affected by this something awful. Us and thousands of others. We have been having financial difficulties as it is, we just got caught up on our car payment, which was 2 months behind, about to be repo'ed, then we are still $281 behind on last months rent. Our electricity is behind, have very little food in the house, but yet don't qualify for state assistance because we make to much. Which I don't know how that is possible seeing we barely make enough to cover, rent, electricity, car payment, insurance, the phone/Internet, which without the Internet we wouldn't have a phone, and I can not be without a phone because of Lily's heart. After all that is paid, we barely have anything for groceries. I am tired of hearing I am hungry all the time from my kids. In the 7 years with my husband, we have had hard financial times, but nothing like this. We wouldn't be so bad right now, but Chris took a vacation and things got mixed up and we ended up without a check and it has yet to be straightened out. Which that was a hard hit on us, seeing it was a whole paycheck we lost.
I am on the verge of tears all the time, my face has broken out like I am a teenager again from all the stress, a the word headache is my middle name. The kids are sick, I am sick, then lets add this damn strike to the list, I want to say enough is enough and throw in the towel. How much can we take. Granted yes we have a roof over our heads so it could get worse, but a roof over your head and an empty belly really sucks. As an adult we can handle it more then what kids can but how do you tell children that there isn't that much food and you have to ration what you have to make it last? You can't do that. Then knowing we are going to be without an income because of this strike. Even if I get hired on at one of the stores as a scab during the strike, what I would make wouldn't even begin to cover the bills we have. I am down on my hand and knees, beseeching the Lord for mercy, strength and courage...but I feel none, I feel so alone, and I can't show my tears, because I have to be the strength, the backbone of this household. I am the glue that holds us all together. So another day will pass, and I will put another fake smile on my face, and try to find a miracle of a silver lining in all of this....there is always a silver lining...isn't there? Please pray with us, prayers are the only thing that will get us through this tiring time ahead.
Love Hugs and Blessing
Oh my Lily girl...I am so with you...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Late Halloween

I know I know, I have been a horribly bad blogger as of late. Do forgive me, I have had no excuse to neglect the blog, and it isn't like I haven't written any blogs, I just never did publish them, they were really long and good blogs, just not finished, and by the time I should have posted them, to much time had gone by. For me it is hard to pick back up on a blog and continue to write, I write with my moods and if I am in a particular mood that day, say sadness, anger, nostalgia, I can not just happen to pick back up on that mood. Which is very sad because I have many good blogs I have never posted. Oh well, they are there for me to read and print off for my out takes of blogging that never made it to the finished product. So the quick synopsis of life over here. Lily is great, we bought another 2 months for her last visit in the beginning of October. Her valve pressure has held stable at the 60-65% mark for the last several marks, which continues to make not only mommy happy, but the doctors are happy also. We are keeping our fingers crossed tightly that come December we get another 2 months all clear, so we can hopefully sail past her second birthday, which is what Dr.Cleveland wanted to begin with, with this repair. I don't say it often but I should, Dr. Cleveland is my hero, our hero in this family. Because of him, his steady hands, and years of medical school and wanting to become a doctor in the first place, we owe him everything.
Now real quick, Lily is weighing in at 29lbs 4 oz, standing tall at 83cm or 32.6771 inches...or should we just say 33" inches tall. She is healthy and where she needs to be for height and weight, she is in the 91st percentile for weight, and in the 63rd percentile for height. Pretty good if I do say so myself considering she is a heart baby. She is not fat, we consider her healthy..and even the doctors say so. Keep it up Lily, you are a growing girl who has to still undergo so much. Even though she weighs so much right now, she can easily lose a good amount during her next surgery, so we never take the weight gained for granted.
Now on to bigger and better things, such as Halloween and what has become mommies late night sweet tooth cravings. My poor children did the work of going door to door......WAIT...scratch that, it is as much mine as theirs because I still have to go door to door with them, I do not let them go up to the door without me..sorry, call me crazy, but that is just me. Oh and asides from the fact I still am regaining my 16 years of no Trick-or-treating allowed. Yes this is where my Jehovah Witness roots come into play. We were the household you would curse out as a child because you would see no lights on but every car in the driveway and the flickering of the TV, but when you rang the door bell there was no response. I am still surprised to this day that our house was never egged or T.P'd. I wouldn't have blamed them and I think I might have even laughed about it, at the expense of my butt being spanked for my behavior, but hey, I was a smart-alic child that enjoyed a good laugh, even if my butt stung for it later. I use to laugh about it then but my father said one day my actions would come back to haunt me, something about Karma..pssshhh...excuse me, but I didn't think JW's believed in stuff such as that, or am I wrong. I could call my grandmother and ask her but I do not wish to be drawn into a long conversation over religious beliefs and prefrences....SOOO...I will just settle this argument with, no, they do not believe in Karma or anything of the sort. So I have no reason according to them to explain my children being such willed children other then the way I raised them, which isn't truly wrong, but I will stick with Karma and bad ju-ju (Sami I stole your word). My rebellious nature has come back on me in ten fold..oh well, I love it and embrace and remind myself, when they are 18, they can move out, and I will be rewarded years later with many grandchildren, which will remind me that I did a good job and didn't kill my children on the many occasions where I thought duck tape and the wall sounded like a grand idea. I do hope you all know I am joking....or maybe I'm that is the question you will wonder about every time you visit my page. Just remember, I love my children with all my heart, even at 2'o'clock in the morning and I am cleaning puke out of the carpet, my hair, their hair, their clothes, their bed, the bathroom floor, and the sink...I LOVE......MY.....CHILDREN!! Laughing out loud over here!
On with the pictures I say, Yes I purposely did these in reverse order...Enjoy the babies, they sure were cute!
Lucas and his Loot

Lily and her loot, let me tell you, once she saw what she had, she started screaming, and if you tried to touch it (like we did when we started picking it up) she screamed and then proceeded to bark at us. Since when did my daughter learn the guard dog routine?
The kids received glow bracelets from a house, which I thought was pretty neat. The loved them, was thrilling for the night!

The wonderful big brothers helping sissy out with walking house to house, more like irritating her
Lily and the big pumpkin, for the life of me, after 4 shots, I still could not get her to look at the camera.
The boys and the big pumpkin. Lucas thought it was "So Cool" he then asked me, "Mommy, that pumpkin doesn't have any of that yucky stuff inside it does it?" I laughed and told him will see why it was funny below.
Lucas and his school friend Bella. She saw him first while we were out and about. He goes up and hugs her awkwardly, like trying to give her a pat on the back while having the, you smell gross look on your face. I thought it was cute. But it melted my heart when I heard him say, "Bella you look really pretty." baby boy knows how to win the ladies over already..ugh, dang McLaughlin charm....I am going to have to watch out.
We had to walk over to the neighbourhood across the streets from out apartments. We started by going by Uncle Matt and Aunt Melissa's house.
Aunt Melissa and Cousin Madi came by before trick-or-treating, Madi was Little Red. She had the basket and everything.
I am big on Candid shots, which was all she was willing to give me anyways.
Lily, Aunt Melissa and Cousin Madi
(Lily and Madi are a month apart in age, Madi is older, Lily is bigger...hummm..I just make them big)
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this picture. My favorite of the night.
My second favorite, Lily and the pumpkin. She was so stinkin adorable.
Austi man as the Hulk
Lucas as a baseball player. Don't harp on me, yes I know he has a Boston hat on, with an AZ jersey, I am well aware of that, but hey, my mom got me the outfit, so I can't complain. He was still adorable, and that is all that matters. That whole outfit was pieced together, Aunt Sami gave us Kenneth's (her almost 3 year old) baseball pants, My mom got the hat and shirt like mentioned, but the socks were Great Grandpa Jim's (whom Lucas never got to meet before he passed, nore I).
My 3 beauitful babies.
Lily has bowed legs, I know
My ladybug princess. Aunt Sami and mommy worked hard on that costume. She was a doll
Her hair for the evening, don't ask how I get her to hold still for so long, because I don't even know how. She loves her hair being done and I love doing it.
All Hallows Eve
Mama and her Girl
See I am the one who carves the pumpkin, trying to make up my lost time remember?
Lily honey we need to work on that smile, you are going to scare the children...
Lucas and the gooey pumpkin...I will let the pictures explain it all.

This is my 3rd Favorite picture
Lily had to help...
I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween.
oh on a side note, I taught my boys a song on the walk home from trick-or-treating...needless to say they sing it around the house now.
Trick-0r-treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat,
If you don't, I won't care, but I'll pull down your underwear."
Yes I know, bad bad bad mommy, they giggled all the way home istead of crying they were tired. Hey a mom's got to do, what a mom's got to do!
Love hugs and Blessings